Vernon’s Al Wejr follows a rock thrown by partner Jack Prokopetz at the Canadian Stick Curling Championships in St. Albert. ( Elorra Marchand Photo) Vernon’s Al Wejr follows a rock thrown by partner Jack Prokopetz at the Canadian Stick Curling Championships in St. Albert, Alta. ( Elorra Marchand Photo)

Cotters off to New Brunswick

Local stick curlers medal at nationals

Jim Cotter asked around B.C. and couldn’t get a commitment from a couple of strong candidates to fill his curling roster.

Instead, the 43-year-old veteran skip ended up landing Steve Laycock of Saskatoon. Laycock replaces John Morris of Calgary.

“It just came out of the blue,” laughed Cotter, who like Laycock, has seven Brier national appearances. “Steve Laycock called a couple of days ago so we’re pretty thrilled that a guy of his caibre was available.”

Laycock, 35, is employed at the University of Saskatchewan.

“He’s a great guy and obviously a world-class curler,” added Cotter. “He’s super smart.”

Cotter planned to tone down his schedule next season and will stay that course.

“We’ll have some training camps in the winter closer to (B.C.) playdowns. You’re allowed one out of town player for provincials.”

Laycock slots in at third with second Tyrel Griffith and lead Rick Sawatsky returning to round out the lineup for next season. Team Laycock, which included fourth Matt Dunstone, second Kirk Muyres and lead Dallan Muyres, announced last month they were parting ways. Sawatsky was injured and replaced by Catlin Schneider of Saskatchewan last season.

Dunstone plans to skip a new Saskatchewan-based team with Braeden Moskowy, Schneider and Dustin Kidby while the Muyres brothers are sticking together and have connected with another sibling duo, Kevin and Dan Marsh. Laycock skipped Canada to gold at the world junior championship in 2003 and earned bronze at the Brier in 2015.

Cotter threw fourth stones during the past two seasons with Olympic gold medallist Morris calling the shots at third and Griffith and Sawatsky up front. They claimed the Princess Auto Elite 10 title in 2017.

They shuffled the batting order again at November’s Canadian Olympic pre-trials with Morris and Cotter switching spots and the change worked out with the team punching a ticket for the Roar of the Rings. Team Morris struggled in December’s Olympic Trials, with Cotter and Morris reverting to their original positions, and finished out of the playoffs with a 3-5 record.

The team finished runner-up in provincial playdowns without Morris, who was busy competing for Canada at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in mixed doubles with Kaitlyn Lawes and captured a second career gold.

Cotter, meanwhile, is off to New Brunswick this weekend to coach his daughter, Jaelyn, at the Canadian Under-18 Girls Championships in Saint Andrew’s.

Jaelyn is supported by third Kaila Buchy, second Katelyn McGillivray and lead Cassidy Schwaerzle. They won the provincial title in Salmon Arm.

Cotter opens the 14-team event Monday night against Saskatchewan (Skylar Ackerman) before battling New Brunswick (Erica Cluff) and Quebec (Annakatrin Perron) in Tuesday draws.

In St. Albert, Alta., Tim Smith and Chris Pieper of Armstrong struck silver in the 48-team Canadian Stick Curling Championships.

Smith and Pieper, who posted a 7-3 record, lost 3-2 to Tom Campbell/Rae Campbell of Manitoba in Thursday afternoon’s final.

Provincial champions John Campbell/Derrell Sears of Armstrong, who lost 3-2 to Smith/Piper on the championship side, brushed back Ryan Meyer/Dennis Fitzgerald of Alberta for the bronze medal.

Vernon’s Al Wejr/Jack Prokopetz went 6-3, getting eliminated 6-4 to Campbell/Campbell in their final draw.

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